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Efforts to Overturn Rejection of L.A. Prison Plan Abandoned

August 21, 1986|LEO C. WOLINSKY | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — After failing to reach agreement with opponents Wednesday, the Deukmejian Administration abandoned its efforts to reverse Friday's surprise Senate rejection of its plan for a new state prison near downtown Los Angeles.

Sen. Robert Presley (D-Riverside), who is carrying the measure on behalf of Gov. George Deukmejian, persuaded the Senate to place the bill in a two-house conference committee in the hope that a compromise might be found before the Legislature's Aug. 29 scheduled adjournment.

"We just said to heck with it," Presley said. "If we do this (going to conference), then we have gone this one extra step . . . and I don't know what else we can do."

The Administration originally opposed putting the bill into a conference committee, fearing that it might never re-emerge.

But Presley took the action after it became clear that the governor did not have enough support in the Senate to force reconsideration of the Senate's earlier rejection of the prison plan.

Opponents, led by Sen. Art Torres (D-South Pasadena), objected to the proposal because of its Eastside location and because the Administration had planned to buy the property without first conducting a full environmental impact report.

Earlier this week, the Administration offered a compromise that would result in an abbreviated environmental assessment of the proposed prison site before the land is purchased. However, Presley and Administration officials apparently were unwilling to negotiate further, particularly over demands by Torres and other opponents that other potential prison sites be considered.

Torres labeled Presley's decision to place the measure in a conference committee a "breath of fresh air," saying it would give him an opportunity to push for further concessions. However, if an agreement is not reached among conferees chosen by each house, the prison plan would automatically die when lawmakers adjourn for the year.

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